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Global Legal Entity Identifier Foundation Endorses the New International Open Data Charter

The overarching goal of the International Open Data Charter is to foster greater coherence and collaboration to promote the increased adoption and implementation of shared open data principles, standards and good practice across sectors around the world


Author: Stephan Wolf

  • Date: 2016-01-29
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  • Estimated Reading Time: 7 minutes

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In January 2016, the Global Legal Entity Identifier Foundation (GLEIF) formally endorsed the new International Open Data Charter. The Charter defines open data as “digital data that is made available with the technical and legal characteristics necessary for it to be freely used, reused, and redistributed by anyone, anytime, anywhere”. The preamble states that the adherents to the Open Data Charter “recognize that governments and other public sector organizations hold vast amounts of data that may be of interest to citizens, and that this data is an underused resource. Opening up government data can encourage the building of more interconnected societies that better meet the needs of our citizens and allow innovation, justice, transparency, and prosperity to flourish, all while ensuring civic participation in public decisions and accountability for governments”.

Adherents to the Open Data Charter “agree to follow a set of six principles that will be the foundation for access to data and for the release and use of data”. These principles mandate that data should be:

  1. Open by default.
  2. Timely and comprehensive.
  3. Accessible and usable.
  4. Comparable and interoperable.
  5. For improved governance and citizen engagement.
  6. For inclusive development and innovation.

GLEIF fully supports the Open Data Charter and is proud to commit to the six principles it mandates.

This blog describes the Open Data Charter initiative citing information published on the Open Data Charter website. Sources mentioned in this blog are included in the ‘related links’ below.

The history of the Open Data Charter

In July 2013, leaders of the Group of 8 (G8) signed the G8 Open Data Charter, which outlined a set of five core open data principles. Many nations and open government advocates welcomed the G8 Charter, but there was a general sense that the principles could be refined and improved to support broader global adoption of open data principles. In the months following, a number of multinational groups initiated their own activities to establish more inclusive and representative open data principles, including the Open Government Partnership’s (OGP) Open Data Working Group.

The Charter was developed within a broad participatory process which actively engaged governments and civil society.

As a first step, on the margins of the International Open Data Conference in Ottawa at the end of May 2015, the OGP Open Data Working Group (co-chaired by the government of Canada and the Web Foundation), the government of Mexico, the International Development Research Centre, the Open Data for Development (OD4D) Network, and Omidyar Network convened a meeting of open data champions from around the world to discuss next steps for consultations on the development of an international Open Data Charter. This meeting constituted a group of stewards with representatives of governments, civil society organisations, and multilateral institutions.

At the International Open Data Conference in Ottawa, participants debated the importance of openness in “Enabling the Data Revolution”. More than 1,000 participants discussed an action plan for international collaboration on open data and the impact it can have in achieving sustainable development. The subsequent consultation of the draft document of the Charter, open through July and August 2015, resulted in the submission of over 350 comments, from all over the world, and contributed to significantly improve the Charter principles. The conveners of the Ottawa meeting continue to lead the development of a global, multistakeholder action network during its initial catalysing phase.

At the OGP Summit in Mexico City (October 27-29, 2015), the Charter was officially launched and opened for adoption by governments. Additional Charter events were held on the margins of the Group of 20 meeting in Turkey in November 2015 and the COP 21 climate change conference in France in December 2015, promoting Charter adoption with a view to a final launch event at the International Open Data Conference to be held in Spain in 2016.

The Charter’s ongoing development is being overseen by a group of lead stewards, drawn from the worlds of government, civil society and the private sector.

What is the relationship between the Open Data Charter and the G8 Charter?

The Open Data Charter builds on the G8 Charter in a number of important ways:

  • It is available for adoption by all national and subnational governments.
  • It promotes the comparability and interoperability of data for increased usage and impact, with an entirely new principle.
  • It acknowledges global challenges such as the digital divide, and the significant opportunities of open data for inclusive development.
  • It recommends standardization (e.g. data and metadata).
  • It encourages cultural change.
  • It recognizes the importance of safeguarding the privacy of citizens and their right to influence the collection and use of their own personal data.
  • It fosters increased engagement with citizens and civil society.
  • It promotes increased focus on data literacy, training programs, and entrepreneurship; and
  • It welcomes the adoption by other organizations, such as those from civil society or the private sector.

Who can adopt or endorse the Open Data Charter?

The Charter may be adopted by national governments and cities. Institutions are eligible to become adopting parties of the Open Data Charter when they meet the requirements of the Adoption Mechanism of the Open Data Charter outlined on the Open Data Charter website. Institutions will maintain their eligibility by demonstrating continuous commitment to and progress with implementation of the Charter. To date, the Charter has been adopted by 17 governments.

Organizations who are not governmental or intergovernmental (such as non-governmental organizations, companies, professional organizations, etc.) are invited to endorse the Open Data Charter.

Information on governments and cities that have adopted the Charter as well as on the organizations that have endorsed it is available on the Open Data Charter website.

GLEIF commits to adhering to the principles set out in the Open Data Charter

The overarching goal of the International Open Data Charter is to foster greater coherence and collaboration to promote the increased adoption and implementation of shared open data principles, standards and good practice across sectors around the world. GLEIF, the body responsible for ensuring the operational integrity of the Global Legal Entity Identifer (LEI) System, is committed to contributing to meeting this objective by making available open and reliable data for unique identification management.

To recap: The LEI is a 20-digit, alpha-numeric code based on the ISO 17442 standard developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). It connects to key reference information that enables clear and unique identification of legal entities participating in financial transactions. The reference data provides the information on a legal entity identifiable with an LEI. Simply put, the publicly available LEI data pool can be regarded as a global directory, which greatly enhances transparency in the global marketplace.

In June 2014 the Financial Stability Board (FSB) reiterated that global LEI adoption underpins “multiple financial stability objectives” such as, for example, improved risk management in firms as well as better assessment of micro and macro prudential risks. As a result, it promotes market integrity while containing market abuse and financial fraud. Last but not least, LEI rollout “supports higher quality and accuracy of financial data overall”.

To facilitate fast and easy access to the entire LEI population, GLEIF launched the Global LEI Index in October 2015. It provides information, updated daily, on the more than 400,000 LEIs issued to date. The Global LEI Index consists of a golden copy of all past and current LEI records including related reference data in one repository. Any interested party can easily access and search the complete LEI data pool free of charge on the GLEIF website using the web-based LEI search tool developed by GLEIF.

The data on GLEIF’s website, e.g. LEIs and Master Agreement, which is the contractual framework governing the relationship between GLEIF and LEI issuing organizations, is provided under a Creative Commons (CC0) licence. Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools.


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About the author:

Stephan Wolf is the CEO of the Global Legal Entity Identifier Foundation (GLEIF). Since January 2017, Mr. Wolf is Co-convener of the International Organization for Standardization Technical Committee 68 FinTech Technical Advisory Group (ISO TC 68 FinTech TAG). In January 2017, Mr. Wolf was named one of the Top 100 Leaders in Identity by One World Identity. He has extensive experience in establishing data operations and global implementation strategy. He has led the advancement of key business and product development strategies throughout his career. Mr. Wolf co-founded IS Innovative Software GmbH in 1989 and served first as its managing director. He was later named spokesman of the executive board of its successor IS.Teledata AG. This company ultimately became part of Interactive Data Corporation where Mr. Wolf held the role of CTO.


Tags for this article:
Legal Entity Identifier (LEI), Global Legal Entity Identifier Foundation (GLEIF), Open Data, Governance, Data Management
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